HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) announced today that hundreds of programs across the state will sponsor Lights On Afterschool events on Thursday, October 22, 2015, involving thousands of individuals, including children, parents, policymakers, business and community leaders, together to promote the importance of quality afterschool programs in Pennsylvania. Last year, over one million people celebrated the importance of and demand for afterschool nationwide during Lights on Afterschool.
Participants in the Lights On Afterschool events include state legislators, mayors, school superintendents, as well as local business leaders, educators and other officials. The events will highlight three of the significant contributions that afterschool programs make to Pennsylvania communities: keeping kids safe and healthy, inspiring them to learn, and relieving working parents of worries about their children's activities during the afternoon hours.
"Lights On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work being done by students who attend afterschool programs," said Laura Saccente, PSAYDN director. "It is a powerful reminder that afterschool programs offer a range of supports to children and families. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania does not have enough afterschool programs, and too many kids are home alone in the afternoons or vulnerable on the streets. We must work with policymakers to ensure more programs and funding for afterschool is available."
According to America After 3PM data released in 2014, only 17 percent of Pennsylvania's K-12 youth participate in afterschool programs, while 18 percent are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Despite this, 50 percent of Pennsylvania's children who are not in an afterschool program have indicated that they would likely participate if one were available in their community. "These events will showcase the high quality afterschool programming that should be available to all of Pennsylvania's youth," Ms. Saccente stated.
As afterschool programs have expanded their offerings, many providers have seen STEM as a natural fit. The strong focus on youth development allows for exploration that can provide opportunities in STEM learning. This September, the Afterschool Alliance released a new report on parents' views on afterschool and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming. Drawing on data from America After 3PM, it found widespread support for STEM education in the afterschool in Pennsylvania, with 75 percent of parents saying they believed afterschool programs should provide STEM learning, and 66 percent of parents with children in afterschool saying their child's program already offers STEM.
The Pennsylvania rallies will be among more than 7,500 such events around the nation that day. Lights On Afterschool participants will see students conduct scientific experiments, athletic performances, participate in games, live bands and a showcase of other talent. The 16th annual Lights On Afterschool is organized by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children have access to quality afterschool programs. A complete list of Pennsylvania celebrations is available at www.afterschoolalliance.org/loaFindEvent.cfm.
For more information about Pennsylvania's afterschool network, go to www.PSAYDN.org.
CONTACT: Aylissa Kiely
SOURCE Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network